Raising chicks with hen

by Beth
(East Texas)

Question
Raising chicks with hen: I had a hen go broody and I let her set on her eggs. They have started hatching today and I am second guessing myself.

Should I move them out of the coop with the other chicks? Will the hen take care of all their needs? The nesting box is off the ground, the chicks will not be able to get back up if they get down. HELP!!

Answer
I wouldn’t suggest putting the hen and her chicks with other chicks. She will most likely not want anything to do with chicks not hers and she may be aggressive towards them.

If you have other adult chickens using this coop, you should definitely move her and the chicks out. You might set up a pen or cage with a nest in it, one that the chicks can get in and out of.

I like to use a cardboard box, with one side removed, especially if nights are cool and breezy. Line it with some hay or straw bedding and place any unhatched eggs in the nest as well as any chicks not walking yet.

She should continue to keep them warm till all hatch and are able to walk. Chick feeders and waterers are important for them to be able to reach needed food and water. You need to feed them “Chick Start”.

Hens keep their chicks warm and will lead them to food and water, but other than that the chicks feed and drink themselves.

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How to add chicks to the mother hen?

by Pavel Hegedus
(US)

Question
How to add chicks to the mother hen?
Chicks are hatching in the incubator and under the mother hen; we started them in the same day, just to have them hatch on same day and now we would like to add those incubator chicks to the mother hen.

How? Is there a best technique? How do the mother hens identify her own? By smell, by "voice" or other communicating means?
We want to add those chicks (20) from the incubator, so the mother can make a big flock, so we will have one instead of two.

Thanks!!! And I see that you guys are doing great job!

Answer
There is little chance that this hen will accept all these chicks. But you might try it at night, when she is sleeping, placing the incubator chicks under her wings and feathers.

Hens seem to know their chicks by their voices. I have had hens that will attack one extra chick added to their chicks, always knowing which one is not theirs. Some hens are extremely motherly and will adopt other chicks.

You will just have to try, if you have the time to watch and make sure she doesn’t hurt the chicks she didn’t hatch. For situations like this you have to get creative and work with your mother hen to see what will help you accomplish this. I wish you the best. She may be willing to adopt extra chicks.

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4 week old chick to brood

by Sandra
(Longford, Victoria, Australia)

Question
4 week old chick to brood: We have a few hens that are about a year old, some of their babies, boys and girls about 4 months, and the next batch of chicks at 5 weeks old.

One of those chicks was left as an egg and we took it in, kept it warm and it hatched.
Re-introducing has not been successful so she has been kept inside for the last 4 weeks.

We take her to the chicken run each day for a play, and she runs up and down the fence shouting loudly, being picked on by the others. She is quite gawky - feathers not coming in as well as the others, but she is a week younger.

Some of the other birds are really quite nasty to her, breaking skin with their vicious peck. Is there something better we should be doing?

Are we just being soft and not allowing the natural pecking order to sort itself out?

Answer
Introducing a single chick is asking for trouble. I make it a rule not to introduce chicks to the flock until they are near adult size.

You might want to take the gentlest chick, of the 5 week old group and pair these up, see if they will bond and raise them together. Introducing chicks with the mother as a group is much different.

The chicks will be protected by the mother and have her place in the flock. Leaving this little chick alone with the flock is probably a death sentence.

The stress of being attacked could cause her to give up and the wounds will slow her growth progress as well as invite more pecking.

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Leave the chicks with hen

by Savannah
(USA)

Question
Leave the chicks with hen: I have a black rose comb hen and rooster in a rabbit cage. My hen is now sitting on ten eggs and they are due to hatch in a week.

I was wondering if I should remove the rooster and let the chicks stay with the hen or if I should remove the chicks as they hatch.

I just don't want the chicks to be pecked to death.

Answer
Most hens make good mothers. Some roosters enjoy the role of father and are very good with chicks. There are no guarantees in life with chickens.

You will just have to watch the hen with her chicks to make sure she is a good mother. It’s up to you to leave the rooster in or not. Most roosters I know are proud fathers and wouldn’t think of harming their babies.

It’s always a good idea to be ready with a brooder, just in case being a mother is not what this hen wants to do.

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